WHETHER or not Alaska has moved on from its heartbreak in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals is set to be known when it faces tormentor San Miguel Beer in a Commissioner’s Cup matchup on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Less than two months after being on the wrong end of the biggest comeback in league history, the Aces take on the Beermen seeking a measure of vengeance.
“Our guys are humans, so I’m guessing they want to step up and they want to prove people they can beat them,” Aces coach Alex Compton said in a chat with Spin.ph after practice on Tuesday.
But the American mentor remained defiant after his team squandered a previously insurmountable three-game lead in the best-of-seven series, bowing to the Beermen in the deciding game last February 3.
“My point is: we’ve always been able to beat them; we beat them in games,” Compton said. “So it’s not whether or not we can beat them. It’s whether or not we can win over a series. We haven’t proven that yet.”
Compton has kept count on their head-to-head matchups, saying they’ve met 22 times since he took over and it’s been a see-saw battle with the Beermen leading by just two games, 12-10.
“It’s been a pretty good twenty-two games over the past year and a half and they’ve made the plays in the biggest games and we haven’t,” Compton said. “Hopefully tomorrow we’ll make the plays.”
At first glance, the Aces have started to put their sorrows behind as they are enjoying the view from the top in the midseason tournament, having won their last five games after starting the conference on the wrong foot.
“We always try to be forward-thinking – and that’s after successes or failures,” Compton said. “What’s done is done. We have nothing to hang our head on.”
“That’s why I love the three-conference format: after you do really well or you do poorly in one, you still got your next day in front of you,” added the second-year coach, whose team is coming off a 103-101 win over GlobalPort last Saturday.
The immediate task at the hand is SMB, which is not far behind, running third in the 12-team standings with a 3-2 win-loss record and seeking to bounce back from a 108-105 loss against Rain or Shine last Friday.
“Each of our games is important, so we’re trying to get separation at the top of the standings and they’re (Beermen) trying to bunch it up with three teams.”